Years ago, I looked over a scum covered pond
At a green nearly two hundred yards away.
It seemed to me that a five iron
Might be enough to get the ball there.
I drew back slowly
Firing hard into the ball.
My follow through was right
And the ball held a perfect line.
The swing left me with little more than three feet
To get a birdie on this beautiful hole.
I steadied my nerves,
But still pushed the ball right of the cup. Par.
A gallery was standing on the balcony
Of the old dinner theater.
They smoked cigarettes and
Jeered me all the way to the next tee.
I thought the old place was a hotel or apartments.
My instincts were kind of right.
The place for acting and gluttony
Had become a temple for honesty and detox.
Twenty-five years ago the old building was tired.
In many rounds of golf, I wondered what went on there.
There were plenty of people shuffling about with despair
And there was a ropes course that was falling into disrepair.
The parking lot was open, although cracked and weedy,
But through the years there were always people.
Sometimes they yelled at me, sometimes they complimented me,
Always they had a look of desperation.
Two nights ago I drove by the old place.
It had been a couple of years.
The weeds were gone, the tired old building covered in youthful siding
The ropes course replaced by a new dormitory.
Still, though, there were people
Lined up at the guard gate.
They stood with clear plastic bags
Holding all of their possessions.
I thought it looked like camp
Or move in day for college
Except for the inspection of items
And the haste with which people checked in.
One family worked to empty their SUV.
Their faces sent me back a quarter of a century
When I saw their look of desperation
Like those on the day I missed my putt…
Each time I go past
The old dinner theater,
I hope all is going well for those there,
No one deserves those demons.